Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Braves Bobbles I'd Like to See

My recent letter to the Atlanta Braves. I'll be sure to post any reply that I receive.
Alan Hearn
Senior Manager of Promotions
Atlanta Braves Baseball Club
755 Hank Aaron Drive
Atlanta, GA

Dear Sir,

As always, I hate to see the season come to a close. Attending games at Turner Field is such a fun experience for my family, and I cannot wait until the gates open at SunTrust Park.

Like many other fans, I always enjoy attending games when Braves bobbleheads are distributed. Two of my favorite bobbleheads are the 'Sid Slid' and the Hank Aaron 715 Home Run bobbleheads. In the future it would be great to commemorate other great moments in Braves history with bobbleheads - perhaps one or two a year. Here are some suggestions:

Aaron Evans Johnson 40 HR teammates
Dusty Baker as a Brave
Lew Burdette Braves HOF
Rick Camp July 4 HR
Skip Carey with voice chip
Tony Cloninger 2 Grand Slam Game
Bobby Dews in chin guards
Brother Francis
Gene Garber ends Rose's hitting streak
Harvey Haddix
Homer the Brave
Bob Horner 4 HR game
David Justice Braves HOF
Rabbit Maranville Braves HOF
Mercker Wohlers Pena combined no-hitter
Phil Niekro Braves HOF
Otis Nixon "The Catch"
Chief Noc-a-homa (though politically incorrect)
Pascual "Perimeter" Perez wearing 285 jacket
Phil the Bucket (sponsored by Home Depot)
Babe Ruth as a Brave (would never happen)
John Schuerholz wearing suspenders
Spahn and Sain and pray for rain
Joe Torre (player/manager dual bobblehead?)
Ted Turner as manager
Bob Uecker (playing the tuba?)
Cecil Upshaw injures finger while dunking
Pete Van Wieren with voice chip

Feel free to contact me to discuss these ideas in detail. If this letter could best be handled by someone else in the Braves organization, please forward it to them.

My family and I are looking forward to spring training and the upcoming 2015 baseball season.

Go Braves!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Lousy Weekend

Lousy weekend. In meetings and conference calls almost all day, so I worked until almost 8 pm Friday night. Still didn't get caught up. Ceil had been running around all day and had a headache, so we went to El Porton with Matthew. Anna spent the night at Brittany's.

Saturday morning I cleaned upstairs until 11:30. Also snapped some photos for eBay. The SEC version of College GameDay was in Athens, and Will was in the crowd. Watched the end of College GameDay and the UGA/Tennessee game. Saw Will in one of the crowd shots. Was in a funk all Saturday because of work being so overwhelming. No relief in sight.

Ceil and Anna went to Perimeter Mall shopping for shoes. After the game I drove Matthew up to meet Sarah. On the way home I got a new cell phone case at WalMart, things for the house at Home Depot, a snack at Taco Bell, and a pair of Columbia PFG shorts at Value Village. Washed the Civic when I got home. Ceil cooked chicken pasta for dinner. Watched the Braves/Phillies and SC/Missouri and posted some old football helmets on eBay. Little interest so far. Later I picked up M in Roswell, and mailed three eBay packages.

Sunday morning I cleaned more and knocked out several loads of laundry. Listened to another Bryant Wright sermon. Ceil and Anna were on the internet watching Caroline Hargreaves compete in a national equestrian event near Washington DC. One of her competitors was Stephen Spielberg's daughter.

While folding clothes I watched Space Jam, the Michael Jordan/Bugs Bunny movie. Ate an egg sandwich that Ceil had fixed, and drove M down to Passion. Watched some of the Braves and less of the Falcons. For all the complaints fans have about the Braves, they're still better than the Falcons. I sneezed most of Sunday, even though I took allergy medicine. Felt terrible. Later I got gas and drove down to pick up Matthew. Went to bed when I got home.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Extroverted Introvert

Saw this article posted on Facebook that somewhat describes me. The author took an article he read and re-wrote it to suit him. Likewise I have edited his article (however slightly) to better suit me. Took out some of the big words as well. Why I never became a stand-up comedian or talk show host.

19 Struggles Of Having An Outgoing Personality But Actually Being Introverted by Christian M. Lyons 

Like many categorizing systems, the separatist thinking behind them attempts to firmly place us in one container or another.  The flaw in these types of systems is that they don't always take into account the middle areas of the spectrum.  And any system is just that: a spectrum.  I've long stated with unequivocal certainty that I'm introverted.  My friends, however, look at me askance, because I'm actually very fun-loving and outgoing when I need to be.  So on that introvert/extravert spectrum, I fall somewhere to the introverted side, but exhibit limited extroverted tendencies.  Here is an article found on Thought Catalog by Brianna West that I have updated to reflect this:

1. You're not anti-social, you're selectively social. It's not that you don't like going out, it's that you are very choosy about when, where, and for how long.

2. At any given point, you have one or two best friendsYou're not a "group of friends" person. This small group are those you know well, trust implicitly, and with whom you feel the most comfortable.

3. Social gatherings like cocktail parties and business gatherings and deacons meetings are just not for you. You don't understand it. You want nothing to do with it.  You don't need a flimsy reason to go out, and these events seem just like that to you.

4. When you do choose to grace a party with your presence, you are the life of it.  This is not to imply that you're snooty…it's just that once you decide to commit to it, you actually commit to it.

5. You then retreat into three days of complete solitude to recover.

6. You go out of your way to avoid people, but when you have to interact with them, you make it seem like there's nothing in the world you'd rather do.  You are able to focus on others when you find them interesting and engaging.  You don't participate in small talk, but if it's a topic you're truly interested in, you're an amazing conversational partner.

7. You're smiling and laughing and talkative at dinner, and then you don't want to interact because you just want to be left alone.  And there's nothing wrong with that.

8. You're accused of joking around with everybody, which is hilarious because in reality you can only tolerate just a few people.  Joking around is your way of being in control of social situations.  For you are not entirely comfortable in such settings many times, but you can always find a way to make it bearable.

9. You retain an air of mystery about you, completely unintentionally. There is no mystery. You feel no need to talk about what's going on in your life every two hours.  Others need to continually provide updates on every little thing they're doing, because non-introverts often act as if they're appearing on their own reality show.

10. You either have days in which you're tweeting and status updating every five minutes - or you don't post for days.  Sometimes you just need a break.

11. You become unintentionally awkward because you at once feel the need to be a social life jacket for other people, though you're just as uncomfortable yourself.  You are sensitive to the discomfort of others, so often because it reflects you're own discomfort in such settings.  But you've developed you own personal safety feature to rescue yourself, and therefore cannot abide by allowing others to suffer through the same intense feelings.

12. You've never really understood the whole "introvert vs. extrovert" dichotomy because you're both. No one truly falls on that spectrum at either extreme end.

13. You're always run through the ringer because people think you're best suited to be the one who gives the presentation, confronts the boss, gives the speech, etc. Meanwhile, you're practically throwing up over the thought of it.  Your choice to keep to yourself often gives others the impression — wrong or right — that you are much more capable of saying things to others, and that they'll listen…because you speak so infrequently, your words carry more weight.

14. You ebb and flow between wanting to be noticed for your hard work, reveling in the attention and achievement you receive, to sinking and panicking over the thought of somebody else paying more than 30 seconds of attention to you.  You prefer to operate behind the scenes.  Let the extroverts take the spotlight.  That's where they thrive.

15. Indecisiveness is your Achilles' Heel.  This is not always true.  Many introverts are fully capable of being decisive.  But when it comes to leaving your comfort zone, you really have to wait until you determine how prepared you are to participate.  And sometimes, that doesn't come until the last minute.

16. You're at your happiest in places like coffee shops and caf├ęs (or ballparks): surrounded by people, but still closed off and keeping to yourself. In this way, you can feel like you're part of the crowd without actually having to immerse yourself in it.

17. You prefer to travel alone, but meet up with people once you're there, on your own terms and at your own speed.  Not only in traveling, but in most situations, you prefer to be in control of your comfort levels.

18. It's taken you years to figure out that you're different than many introverts you know. Literally years.  Because the spectrum has always been presented as either/or, you may not have realized that ambivert was also a choice.  Until now.

19. While we were chastised as children for daydreaming, we do so deliberately as adultsas our inner lives are rich, fertile, and sustain us.  And daydreaming doesn't necessarily mean that your head is in the clouds.  It also means that you could be contemplating issues that no one else is aware that you even know about.  And then you come up with — as if out of the blue — stunning solutions that no one else had taken the time to think through (thus my blog).

Saturday, September 27, 2014

My Co-Workers

Amanda is Bill’s newest hire. From Alabama. Lives in Decatur. About to marry her college boyfriend, who now is in ticket sales for the Hawks.

Andrea came over to Bill’s department from Credit. Kids play football and cheerlead.

Andrew: recent addition from transactional sales. Phillies fan. Georgia State grad. Musical wiz. Teaches guitar in spare time. Lives near office. A good, cool guy. Drives a little Mazda.

Bill worked in processing when I first started. I eventually inherited his job. Was my boss from 2009 until earlier this year. From Buffalo, loves puns. Sold his RV and now owns a cabin in north Georgia with a boat nearby, as well as a Gulf Shores condo. Lives in Lawrenceville. Has grown sons, and a granddaughter. A big do-it-yourselfer. Drives a big Dodge SUV.

Brad gets assigned the hard-to-handle accounts. Spent time in quality, like me. Devout Christian, from Missouri. Lives in Cumming, has two boys at Kennesaw State and a third in high school. Started running a few years ago and now runs marathons. Repairs his own cars. Likes to fish. Vacations at Seagrove Beach. Drives an old pickup.

Chris: tough coach’s daughter. Tech grad. Smartest in the office. Dotes on her nephews and niece. Often plays trivia with friends. Lives in Dunwoody. Loves animals. Recently bought a new Kia.

Dale is from Wisconsin, and coaches his boys baseball teams. Lives in Kennesaw and makes the long drive when not traveling. Packers fan.

Darryl started in Jacksonville, moved to Fabrication in last 90’s. Northside High grad, served overseas in the Air Force repairing planes. Kids are grown, has several grandkids. We’ve played golf several times and attended last year’s UGA/North Texas game together. Several years ago my car broke down and I spent the night at his house in Between, GA. Attends church in West End. Drives an old pickup.

Debby is a long time employee, has worked in many departments. From Alabama, a big Crimson Tide fan. Used to go to church with my college friend Randy Harris. Loves to knit – used lots of Jenny Ewing’s leftover yarn to make hats for orphans. Vacations at the Outer Banks. Lunches with Dennis every day.

Dennis started just after I left the processing center in 1999. Runs the Peachtree. Wife Angie works for Outback, so they can eat out for free. Twin sons now in high school at Lanier. Entire family runs the Peachtree. Dennis is from Greenville, went to Georgia State, and works quickly but not always accurately. Attends church in Sugar Hill. Drives an Altima.

Eric moved down from the Charlotte office to work for Bill. Ex-military, quiet, great worker. Knows lots of arcane trivia from old TV shows and movies. Eats at his desk like me. Drives a Kia.

Gloria: another recent addition. Works on pricing spreadsheets for Sue. Southern accent. Subaru.

Greg rides his bike all over Alabama.

Jeff: Tech grad. Lives on Hilton Head. Married Mr. Robinson’s daughter. Sometimes brings biscuits. Used to run marathons. Chris pulls his chain.

Sandra started in processing one year before me, when her kids were young. Now they’re grown with kids of their own. Co-ordinates an inordinate amount of family activity: bills, vacations, RV repairs, new vehicle purchases, etc. Catchphrase: “I’ll kill you!” Bought a new Kia Sorento a year or so ago.

Steve has worked here over 45 years. From Dalton, attended Georgia State, and lived in Columbia for many years. Built house on South Carolina coast. Loves to sail.

Sue moved down from Chicago to run the department. Plays violin in the Gwinnett Symphony. Lives in a beautiful home near downtown Norcross. Huge Patriots fan. Jeep Cherokee.

Tim B recently moved down from Tulsa to run the office. Loves the outdoors and a good joke. Chevy Tahoe & VW Jetta.

Tim M started in traffic before moving over to processing after I left. Auburn grad originally from Buffalo. Recently married Becky. They attend most Auburn home games with her family. Long time runner, occasional left-handed golfer – we’ve done both together. Attends North Point. Went his ragged VW Golf finally wore out Tim bought a sleek new VW CC.

Wanda helps tremendously with my accounts. Started almost two years ago. A grandmother just a few years older than me. Drives a Chevy sedan. Husband works for UPS, used to play semi-pro football, and makes army models. Cool.

Friday, September 26, 2014

The New GM

I went to 15 games this season, between the Braves, Gwinnett, Rome, and Myrtle Beach. The most in a long time.

More on the new GM search:

ROB: If you read the various social media outlets, it seems many (most) of the fans who are active in this medium want Coppelella (Coppy) as the new GM instead of John Hart or Dayton Moore.  It seems many think that anything less than hiring Coppy will be a complete failure on the Braves part.

It is interesting because Coppy has not spent 1 day as the GM of a baseball club.  I think there is more to being a GM than many people think - you not only need to know who are the best players to get, you need skills to negotiate with other teams and players.  Coppy may very well be the next Theo Epstein or Billy Beane.  Nobody knows that at this point.  However I do know that John Hart took a dreadful Cleveland franchise and built them into a 90's World Series contender.

I think the best scenario for everyone would be if Hart took the job short term, with Coppy as his #1 assistant.  I think if Coppy takes the job now, it sounds like he would have JS, Cox and Hart all looking over his shoulder.

I think I probably went to the fewest games this year since the early 2000's.  I didn't buy tickets before the season started - I bought the ticket voucher thing.  I look forward to going back to buying a ticket package next year.

ME: And should Coppy fail the fair weathered fan would wonder why they hired someone without experience. Yet anyone with experience worth getting wouldn't be available.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Jeter by the Numbers

Will Jeter receive the first unanimous HOF vote? Probably not, but he could beat Tom Seaver’s record for the highest percentage ever. This year Jeter tied Aaron’s record for most consecutive seasons with at least 150 hits – 17.

SI reports:
3459 hits, the most ever for a shortstop.
Ranks 6th on the all-time hit list.
Eight 200 hit seasons. Only Ichiro, Rose, and Cobb have more.
2671 games at shortstop, the second most all time.
15.7% of Yankee games that Jeter has played in.
0 games at a defensive position other than shortstop.
158 postseason games played, the most all time.
200 postseason hits, the most all time.
.838 career postseason OPS
.817 regular season OPS
1  - number of Derek Jeter bobbleheads that David Murphy is trading for

Wednesday night after Bettancourt’s second ground rule double I was trying to determine what the single game record was. Never found out – not sure that record is kept. I did learn what ‘ground rule double’ means in slang language (as opposed to what ‘ground rule’ means.

Monday night I worked til 6:30 and stopped by Kroger on the way home. Supper was black bean and rice, and salad.

I left work Tuesday and cut over to 85 south down to Clairemont, then straight over to the Square in Decatur in dine with Jeff Yearwood and Harriet, our secretary at the GT BSU. Ate at Ted’s. Had a burger with a fried egg on top. Harriet had a Mexican burger, and Jeff a cheeseburger. Harriet told me Charles Quarles was BSU president at West Georgia – I did not know that. We’ll have to talk about our old BSU days. Today Dock Hollingsworth is speaker at Harriet’s nursing home (at 76, she’s one of the youngest residents).

Yearwood still works up near the Gwinnett Place Mall, and pastors a small church on the weekends down near his hometown of Concord. Decided to only preach from the Gospels. Daughter Jane will be moving to NYC soon. She currently works for Delta in Salt Lake. Jeff’s son Ward lives in DC and just got married. Ward works for the department of Homeland Security. A few years ago before Ward was deployed to Afghanistan Ward talked Jeff into getting tattoos together. Jeff got to pick out the words: “The Lord is my strength.”

Didn’t get home until 10:45 Tuesday night and stayed up late with Matthew.

Work has been a killer lately, almost as bad as the killer year of 2008. Called on to do so much and sit in on so many meetings that there’s no time to do my own job. Literally twice as many emails and phone calls. Worked until 7:50 Wednesday night after leaving “early” Tuesday  (5:35). Got home, changed clothes, and was sent out to the store to pick up something for a school project. Ceil cooked grits and eggs. Slept well after a restless night of sleep Tuesday night.

Tales from the crypt: Told another great movie story this morning. After losing something for three weeks, it took my friend Shawn all of five minutes to track them down. A couple of other things went our way, and I was reminded of what bad guy Syndrome said in “The Incredibles” when he captured Mr. Incredible’s entire family: “This is tooo good!”  Had the whole office listening in on that one.

Also today my co-worker with all the late parts exclaimed “Man! This is turning into a full time job!” Made me laugh out loud.

And when I mentioned that I would check with someone about something, but couldn’t just then because they were in a meeting, co-worker Wanda piped up and said “They’re not in a meeting – they just called me.” I shushed Wanda and stage whispered “I’m trying to put this off!”

Haley Hurt worked at a restaurant in Seaside this summer. Might’ve been in Water Color or near that Publix near Seaside.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Life After Wren

Surely Frank Wren had successes, but in this age people only remember the negatives. People keep bringing up Uggla, BJ, Lowe, and Kawakami. No one knew Uggla would lose his superpowers when he came it Atlanta, though it could be a steroid thing. A big bucks GM has to take that into account. Wren should've known BJ had flaws – at the plate, in the field, and in the dugout. 

How many years will fans give the new GM before calling for his head? Surely not twelve months.

Sounds like Walker and Fletcher are goners. Is it their fault players won't change their approach? If a player hits a home run only 2 or 3% of the time, why do they swing for the fences 100% of the time? At what point do Gosslin and LaStella and Bettancourt start swinging for home runs? Everyone else does, why shouldn't they?

Will this change the chances for the top-ranked Braves centerfield prospect to make the big team at some point down the road? But his chances are limited – he doesn't hit home runs.

The Cardinals and A's know what their players can and cannot do – and only ask them to do what they can do. Is that so hard? Perhaps the new GM will place a higher value on players who strike out less.  

I'm not mad that the Braves didn't make the playoffs. Like most every year, they were in contention until almost the last week of the season, despite the offensive downturn and all the injuries. Perhaps a veteran leader was needed. Johnson couldn't fill that role because of his hotheadedness. Andrelton and Teheran are too young. Gattis and Santana and others are too new. BJ too poor performing. Why not Freddie and Heyward? Glad I'm too busy to read a lot about it.

Great news: Anna scored a 28 on the ACT. She hopes that will get her into UGA. This past Sunday her friend Brennan was baptized at NP. During his testimony he showed group prom photos with Anna in them.

ROB: I think it is a good move if Coppella (sp) gets the job - though a bad move if they hire Dayton Moore
From 2010 to 2012, Justin, BJ and Heyward combined to average 64 HR's and 69 SB's.  In 2013 and 2014, they have averaged 50 HR's and 34 SB's.

Justin's HR's have gone from an average of per year in 10-12 to 27 each of the last 2 years.  His stolen bases have dropped from 27 to 8.

Heyward averaged 20 HR's per season through the first 3 years of his career.  During the last two seasons, he has averaged 13.  The last 3 years have seen his HR totals go from 27 to 14 to 11.  He averaged 14 steals from 10-12 and 11 steals in 13-14.

Here is the big one.  BJ averaged 23 HR's and 36 SB's from 10-12.  Looking back, people say he was given a bad contract due to his history of high strikeouts and low batting average.  However when he did make contact, he was very productive.  In his contract drive year of '12, he barely missed a 30-30 season with 28 HR's and 31 SB's.  Obviously those numbers have fallen off the cliff the last 2 years - average 10 HR's and 16 SB's.

Sports fans pretty much want everyone fired.  I am sure that many of the FireFredi people wanted Bobby Cox fired every year as well.

I think one of Wren's best moves was trading Vizcaino and Delgado instead of Teheran and Minor.

I think Kyle Wren probably has a more promising future as a Brave now than he did before.
ME: Hard for Wren to have predicted those fall offs. Fans hated to see Prado go but welcomed Justin with open arms. There was lots of positive fan talk at that time. Should Schuerholz be fired for his "no balls should drop between our outfielders" statement? I still get mad about that - every time an easy fly ball falls in. I will be forever spoiled by Andruw. In the end Wren was fired for the Braves having to eat the contracts of Lowe, Uggla, and eventually BJ. And the greatest of these is BJ.

Why do you think they dropped off so? Any theories? Were pitchers learning how to pitch them? Chipper said it's easier to hit a home run when you're not trying to hit one – and therefore harder to hit a home run when you're trying to. Seems like that's the problem? Even if Chipper were the hitting coach, the players would still do their own thing. As a coach Chipper couldn't call out players in the media, though as an ex-player I wish he would. Kinda like how he shook his head at Francoeur bulking up and pulling the ball.

There are so many stories of players trying to live up to big contracts and failing. You'd think a player would be more mindful of that. But today's players aren't generally known for being read up on the history of the game. And those who fail history are doomed to repeat it.

Read a fan saying he hoped Dayton Moore got the GM job.

The state of the Braves has gotten so bad that my friend David Hurt sent out his first ever tweet: "Someday professional athletes will be paid for what they are doing, not what they've done…can you tell I'm a Braves fan?" Though I'm not sure exactly how that would work.

ROB: I believe Chipper loves the freedom of his new life and soon to be new wife to commit to spending almost every day from February through October of every year living the life of a major league hitting coach.

I think they would be better off by making him the teams organizational hitting coordinator.  All of the major and minor league hitting coaches would report to him.  Chipper would develop the organization's hitting philosophy and pass that on to the minor and major league coaches.  Chipper could work with hitters directly in spring training and during home stands, but his travel would be limited to a certain numbers of minor league visits.  Chipper would select the coaches that would understand and adhere to this thoughts on hitting.

Justin has bulked up and sacrificed speed for power.

The 3 year Heyward HR drop is the thing the organization needs to understand.  Was it last year's injuries?  Was it moving him to the leadoff spot?  I need to look at his HR rates before and after they moved him to leadoff in last year's St Louis series in July.

When you have nothing better to do, google video's for 'BJ Upton Tampa'.  Look at how fast he loaded his swing on his Tampa HR's.  Somehow when he got here last year his mechanics were screwed up.  He has been trying to fix them since then.  I think he can be fixed, but it may not be in Atlanta.  Also, while you are googling, find the video of the BJ - Longoria dugout confrontation in Tampa.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Clemson Can't Convert

Clemson did not quite pull a Clemson Saturday night, though they failed to take advantage of several opportunities to knock off the number one team in the nation and take the driver’s seat in their division. With the national spotlight focused squarely on him, FSU’s backup quarterback played ok, forcing too many balls and paying the price with two costly interceptions – one returned for a touchdown.

The Tigers missed out on at least SIX opportunities to win the game. Stoudt’s first quarter pass to an open tight in was too low, and the resulting field goal attempt was shanked left. A second missed field goal (3) had the kicker freaked out – he returned to the bench, threw a towel over his head, and sulked. With such negative body language it’s no wonder Dabo shied away from further attempts. A first and goal dive play up the middle was ruled down at the one foot line, though a replay might have overturned the call (4). One play later Watson inexplicably lined up in the shotgun, and the backup center snapped the ball over his head (5). As time counted down Clemson had one last chance to win the game. Driving deep into Seminole territory the Tigers appeared to be marching down for a game-winning score – but lost a fumble (6). FSU ran out the clock and forced overtime.

In overtime Clemson failed to make a first down. Scared to miss a third field goal, Dabo went for it on fourth down. I didn’t like the play call – Watson retreated almost five yards before handing off, forcing the running back to carry the ball six yards for a first down. This gave the defense plenty of time to penetrate and tackle the ballcarrier for a loss. All FSU had to do was kick a field goal to win, so they were going to keep the ball on the ground. Clemson spread out their defense, expecting a pass. Dismayed, the Clemson defense allowed FSU to score in just two plays.

Jameis Winston clearly was not ready for all the spoils that came with the Heisman Trophy. The university may not be either. For this his third offense FSU was only going to suspend Winston from half of the Clemson game, until the school president stepped in and suspended him for the entire game (because Winston lied about his transgression – strike four!). Even with all that Winston  did not grasp the severity of the situation, as he suited up and went out on the field to warm up. Head coach Jimbo Fisher had to send him back to the locker room to take off his uniform. 

While it’s admirable that Winston wanted to cheer on his teammates and help out however possible, the last thing Winston and the university needed was his twisted smile continuously plastered on national TV the entire evening. No matter how well Winston plays the rest of the season, any hopes of a second Heisman are long gone. And with what’s currently going on in the NFL, does Winston think they’ll be welcoming him with open arms? He’s be better off coming back to FSU for his junior year – if he manages to not get kicked off the team.

Before the game both Fisher and Swinney were forced to shun questions about Winston from sideline reporters. Though FSU hasn’t had a squeaky clean history, I have admired both Jimbo Fisher and Bobby Bowden. As Texas A&M learned last year, handling a wayward Heisman winning QB can be tricky. Cutting ties with an Isaiah Crowell is one thing, but kicking a Heisman winner off your team is much harder.  

After the game Clemson student manager Ben Miller was stricken with abdominal pains and was treated by team doctors. The pain increased after Miller returned to Clemson, and Sunday he was admitted to the hospital for surgery. With the off week, Ben hopes to be back on the sidelines September 27 for the North Carolina game.  

UGA/TROY: Hopefully Keith Marshall’s isn’t seriously injured, though the Dawgs have three other backs waiting in the wings. Nice that all three quarterbacks got playing time, and the defense was able to keep the shutout. Nice tune-up for Tennessee. Gurley: 72 yards on just a few carries.

Bama/Florida: The Gators started out tough, but couldn’t keep up with Bama. The Tide will continue to improve, and would be a formidable opponent in the SEC Championship Game. Florida scored at least one defensive touchdown, but is sure to play Georgia tough next month.

Mississippi State / LSU: the second loss for LSU. Perhaps they won’t be a factor in the SEC West this year – though they could be a spoiler.

South Carolina / Vandy: no shame in a close win by the Gamecocks, after last week’s emotional victory over Georgia.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Kitti's Blogging Tips

Kitti Murray’s Ten Blogging Helps for the Serious Writer, a recent post at www.kittimurray.com

1. Get your why in place. Needs to be more than just self-expression.
2. Get educated. Read a book, take a class, join a group. Learn.
3. Get into good literature. If you read junk, you’ll write junk. Best to read both fiction and non-fiction.
4. Get a process. Hers include index cards and the dining room table.
5. Get ahead, if you want to post regularly. I’ve gotten better about this.
6. Get some margin. Good writing happens in a vacuum, not chaos.
7. Get a few cheap writing tricks in your bag. Hers include reading everything out loud and varying sentence lengths.
8. Get feedback – but choose wisely.
9. Get serious about what you won’t allow. Hers include exclamation points, disclaimers, and making it all about me. If I did this, my blog would be much shorter! (Darn it, I just broke the exclamation point rule.)
10. Get to the truth, and don’t veer from it.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

GT Nips VT

Georgia Tech / Virginia Tech Game Notes: 

VT tried to hand the game to GT, GT would just hand the game right back. VT fumbled but GT doesn't pick it up so the VT QB ran it in for a TD. As bad a passer as Thomas was all game, Johnson kept calling pass plays and lucked into a game tying TD drive. Then another bad throw by VT's QB resulted in cornerback DJ White's interception (above).

GT left 10 points off the board - Thomas 80 yard TD run called back - a questionable call?

Butker misses an easy FG - can't get above 50% for the year. Most D1 schools can get a kicker who makes 75% of their FG's. When I have the time I will do a study of this. Butker's aunt taught Drew Kelly's son in kindergarden. Not sure how they relate to Kevin Bacon.

Penalties penalties penalties - holding and other dumb penalties. VT should have been able to win this game. At least GT has a good punter this year.

Any Tech fan who thinks GT can beat UGA is delusional.

Worked til 6:50 Friday night. Caught up a little bit, but mostly I was helping my coworker dig out of his mess. One land mine after another. Then I gassed up Will's jeep, cleaned out his trunk, stopped by Goodwill and Kroger. After 8 when I got home. Turned on the Braves, worked on the computer, and traded bobble heads. Stayed up late packaging ebay shipments.

Woke early Saturday and went to the state fair in Marietta. Cobb EMC annual meeting, which featured an opening prayer, God Bless America, and a speech from Governor Deal. The comments from the crowd were entertaining - a hippie Libertarian calling the event Republican. Came home and fell asleep during the Tech game.

Not sure if I got good deals or not. My recent deals...

Glavine for Sparky Anderson (ok)
Glavine for Willie Robertson (ok)
Glavine for Roy Halladay (ok)
Glavine and Cox for a really nice Gattis (ok)
Glavine for a young Brooklyn Dodger Tommy Lasorda (ok)
Glavine for PeeWee Reese pushing Roy Campanella (great)
Francoeur bobble for Cubs Maddux (great)
Andruw & Chipper statues for Brooklyn Dodger Babe Ruth (ok)
Andruw statue for Gattis (good)
Cox for Dodger Don Sutton (good)
Cox for Brewers Harvey Kuenn (good)
Chopper for the Brewers' Barrellman (good)
Maddux for Sandy Koufax (good)
Gwinnett Freeman for Ichiro (good)

My wish list: Don Zimmer, Tim Wakefield, Gil Hodges, Ernie Banks, Honus Wagner, Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver, Star Wars themed baseball bobble heads, Mississippi Braves Gattis, Vegas Maddux, Gale Sayers, Fireman themed Zach Wheeler, Rick Monday saves the flag (thought I had a trade for a Glavine).

Of course, now I don't have many more to trade. Might be a good thing - shipping gets expensive!

Friday, September 19, 2014

DWTS Season 19

I rarely watch Dancing With the Stars, and doubt I’ll start now. This week Ceil was watching to see Sadie. Willie and Korie were in the audience, along with their adopted college age Korean daughter. As the season progresses I wouldn’t be surprised to see other Robertson family members, including Uncle Si. Sadie has a line of “daddy approved” prom dresses, and speaks to church youth groups. Though her DWTS bio leaves out any references to Christianity, they did show a clip of Willie praying over Sadie before flying off to Hollywood.

I only know seven of the 13 dancers…
Sadie Robertson from Duck Dynasty. Graded second-highest on the first night, though it’s doubtful she’ll win.
Lea Thompson from Back to the Future.
Alphonso Ribeiro, Carlton on the Fresh Prince
Michael Waltrip, NASCAR driver
Tommy Chong from Cheech & Chong
Tavis Smiley, talk show host.
Lolo Jones, Olympic athlete (voted off).
Betsey Johnson, 72 year old fashion designer. Too old, but perky.
Bethany Mota, youtube sensation (dunno)
Janel Parrish, young Hawaiian Broadway star (dunno)
Antonio Sabato Jr, male model (heard of)
Randy Couture UFC (dunno)
Jonathan Bennett from Mean Girls (dunno)

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Hangin' with the Chief

Tuesday night Will texted, asking I bring the shirt he's left when we met. I'd volunteered to take him to the airport. Work has been a killer, but I took a half day. I left at 11:30 and met him at the Indian Trail park & ride. He left Athens at 11 am for his 1:50 flight to OKC. We made good time through downtown. In the airport he saw Andy Landers and the UGA tennis team.

Drove up to Alpharetta in time to pick up M at 2:15. Met Sarah in downtown Alpharetta (Cherokee County is on break this week). Stopped at Publix for sandwiches and made it to the Ted by 3:45. Made M & S stand in the dollar line while I joined a conference call. That piped in Turner Field loudspeaker music reminds me of Six Flags. ESPN has filming pregame shots of our line of fans. Probably edited out Crazy Darrell, who was busy playing catch (endangering all around him). One of my new bobblehead buddies was near me in line (he calls me 'sir'). Inside M & S sat in the shade during BP while I made my trade. I thought they'd like the section 215 row 6 company seats, so I gave them space and sat with the Chief.

Robert had a few other buddies cowtowing to him, but the baseball talk was fun. Robert was scanning the 2015 schedule for the first time, and expertly noted that the two season-ending series against the Nats and Cardinals could be decisive. During the game he worked out his 2015 trip to visit his sister in Boston – while the Braves are at Fenway. He will fly back and go straight to Turner Field. Robert said the Simba Cam has become almost a nightly feature. He usually takes a walk around the park during the second inning, to greet all the regulars he knows (including Johnny and Marshal, who were once more no-shows).

Did anyone say why Scott Fletcher was coaching first base? Robert thought it hilarious when Roger McDowell sat in the ball boy's chair down the rightfield line.

We left in the top of the eighth and stopped by the Varsity on the way home. Drove up to Windward, then over to Birmingham to meet S's mother, then back home. A lot of miles on the old Civic yesterday. This morning co-worker Tim went with me to retrieve Will's Jeep. W returns Sunday evening.

ROB: Where did the HR's go?  Last year we hit 181 - this year 118. We lost 20 with McCann.  Even though Gattis has been the starting catcher, with injuries and rest, he has had about the same number of plate appearances (and Home Runs) as last year.  Laird and Bethancourt have not homered. We lost about 20 at 2B.  As bad as Uggla was last year, he did hit 22 HR's, compared to his 2 this year.  Gosselin and LaStella have 1 each. Simmons hit 17 last year versus 7 this year.

Freeman's HR rate (HR/Plate Appearances) dropped from 3.7% last year to 2.7% this year.  Heyward dropped from 3.2% to 1.7%.  Johnson dropped from 2.2% to 1.5%.  BJ is at 2% like he was last year.  Justin has actually gone from 4.2% to 4.9%.

Terry Pendleton has back spasms - that is why Fletcher was coaching 1B.

Were you the guy walking around with an armful of bobbleheads all night?

ME: You would've been proud. I sprang for a Green Lot parking pass when I traded out the tickets, so I was able to stash the Glavines that Matthew, Sarah, and I received (plus the Maddux and Ruth I traded for). I didn't see that poor guy with all the bobbleheads. Some are hoarders (some LA fans get dozens), but a few are dads having to carry his entire family's haul. Speaking of that, hopefully my FB bobblehead interactions haven't been too bothersome for the non-bobblehead addicted. That photo I posted of several Glavines was actually stolen from someone else.
I knew that was a cheap shot to post the photo of the Gonzalez and BJ jerseys, but when I saw them lined up all together I just couldn't resist.

Home runs – the drop-off wouldn't be so had if the Braves shortened their swings and raised their BA and OBP and BARISP.

Matthew said Greg McMichael's daughter is in one of his classes. It just so happened that McMichael was outside Turner Field last night signing autographs at the electric car tent, so I was able to show M who he was. Wish I could earn tuition money like that.

With friends with differing political and sexual preferences, it is interesting to see what some people post. And I have a young mom friend who overdoes it as well. Posts the bad as well as the good. Sometimes I think I was a bad example to some people a few years ago when I was posting those baseball and science trip photos. Before Anna's prom I joked that I was going to post 1,000 photos. Some people post ten photos almost exactly alike. Adults are worse than teenage girls. One photo-posting mother posted her daughter's senior photos. The mom was IN one of the photos. I did see an interesting photo of Eddie Kirkland lifting weights. Quite impressive.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Big Ball and Bat

When we were little my brother and I would play a game we called “big ball and bat.” One on one. Not sure why we didn’t roll the big plastic bouncy ball like a pitch. Instead we placed the ball in a hole we had worn out in the ground and hit it with a wooden baseball bat (usually a Braves bat day giveaway). 

When I got older my dad entered me in the Punt Pass & Kick competition. He bought me a football and tee to practice. At the local competition my pass and punt were average, but my low to the ground kick scored second for my age group. After that I began kicking down the driveway after school. I would go chase the ball, then go back and kick it again. Eventually I got good, and became the kicker on my ninth grade team. My parent’s driveway still has a lopsided pine tree next to it, where my kicks knocked down the branches on one side.

I rarely kept stats, until I got to high school and kicked for the team. Instead of games I would draw – airplanes, baseball and football players, cars. I would play the game TROUBLE with my brother or sister and sometimes by myself. I just hated the loud noise it made. In college I started playing RISK and backgammon. I would play backgammon by myself. 

I kept stats on the mighty mite teams I coached. Probably still have them somewhere. Then I kept Will’s stats when he started playing baseball. Soon I was keeping the stats for the entire team. Still have all the scorebooks and excel spreadsheets.

Never played many games during recess until the seventh grade at Springdale Elementary School. There we played a hard-nosed football game. Without a tee, I would lie the ball on its side and kick the ball “on-sides.” The most memorable play was one day after the bell rang ending recess. We ran one more play. If the other team didn’t score, my team would win. John Gibson, the fastest boy in school, got the ball and was running for a touchdown. I was the only one in his way. As he was about to run past I stepped in front of him, and we collided nose to nose. As I fell down I remember seeing him spinning around like a top as he fell to the ground, as I had hit him really hard. My nose was bleeding, and I my once smooth nose now had a more characteristic bump. This is probably when my runny nose problems started as well.

I don’t have many memories of junior high PE. The coaches were more interested in whether you wore the proper gym clothes than actually performing exercises. The one exception was the week we boxed. Each out lasted two minutes, with combatants wearing boxing gloves and white junior high football helmets. My one match was against my fellow bus 64 rider Rex Dooley. Like me, in eighth grade Rex was tall and skinny and sported a cheesy moustache. When the match began we both danced about. The punches weren’t exactly glancing. After sixty second we were both exhausted from holding our gloves up. By the last 30 seconds we were leaning on each other. The one difference: while he just leaned on me, but while I leaned I was punching him in the midsection with both fists. When the bell sounded it was the greatest feeling in the world when the coach lifted my arm in the air as the victor.   

The Lanier High gymnasium is a huge gray block. The northern side of the structure is devoid of detail, with the exception of one small door in the northeastern corner. One spring day I was standing in the door before my PE class began, wearing gym shorts and tennis shoes but no shirt. My good friends Bob Brewster and Catherine Hendricks (the homecoming queen) were walking across the parking lot, and we waved to each other. After that Catherine swears she looked off in another direction. Bob was still looking at me when Marty Drawhorn snuck up behind me and pulled down my gym shorts, revealing my whitey tighties. With my shorts at my ankles, I waddled out of the doorway. Bob said it was the funniest thing he ever saw. Catherine swears she didn’t see anything.   

At Tech my favorite PE class was aerobics. Took it twice. You’d run for half the class, on the track around Grant Field. That was when the track ran under the small north stands. The last 30 minutes we’d play football on the AstroTurf field. Our instructor was Whack Hyder. He knew my grandmother, who had worked for years in the registrar's office. He would visit the office to make sure his basketball players were eligible. After that he would always greet me and ask about my grandmother, even years after I graduation.

Gymnastics was taught by the football team’s strength and conditioning coach, Coach Polhemus. Fortunately for me, he wasn’t much into gymnastics. Most of the grade was based on calisthenics and the one mile run. While we stretched Polhemus would stretch and lecture us on his outlook on life (going the extra mile). He was the one prof whose good side I got on. One “test” was doing one hundred sit-ups. Afterwards he called roll, and we’d reply with the number of sit-ups we did. Most said one hundred. When he called my name I answered “101.” He loved it. 

Based on our training runs, Polhemus considered me the favorite to finish the mile run with the fastest time. We were running around the four indoor basketball courts in the brand new Student Athletic Complex (SAC, where the Olympic swimming pool was later built). I had never competed in an official race before, so I took off and led the entire way. It wasn’t that I tired out, but on one of the last turns a classmate passed me to win. I never saw it coming.

Downproofing was required for graduation – unlike today. I could swim ok, but I had never been one to swim great distances. We were taught to stay in water for 45 minutes wearing long pants and a long sleeved shirt, with our hands tied, our legs tied, and eventually both hands and legs tied. We’d spend most of the time calmly bobbing up and down, but we’d also have to perform certain tasks – like performing an underwater somersault and swimming to the deep end and back. 

Another test was the underwater swim. To pass you had to swim the length of the Olympic-sized pool. To get an “A” you had to turn around underwater and swim all the way back. We couldn’t dive in at the start – instead we had to jump in backwards. I set out just wanting to pass, but I made the turn and kept swimming back. Eventually I made it all the way. I made a “B” in the class without much trouble. Getting an “A” required performing all the tests almost perfectly, which I just couldn’t do.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Last Minute Ted Trip

I'm planning on going to the Wednesday night Braves game. M wants to take his girlfriend Sarah. At 5 pm yesterday the Monday night company seats were offered out. I decided to take them and go swap them out for Wednesday tickets. 

Left Duluth at 5:20 and made it to the Blue Lot just after 6:30. Still plenty of dollar tickets available, so I bought one and went inside to swap the tickets. BP was over, and Johnny and Marshal weren't around. Spotted the Chief, my friend from Kroger. In his element, he was in a talkative move. Decided to stick around in case a no-hitter was thrown. Sat with the former Chickfila manager George, whose baseball-playing daughter was voted onto Kell's homecoming court. Made my exit before Bryce Harper made his, and was home by 8:30. Perhaps Ceil will go with me tomorrow.

The Friday night Star Wars parade will be interesting. Wish I had a storm trooper or Chewbacca costume. I really want a bear costume, though it would be hot.

Loved how the AJC asked whether the Braves should clean house "after one bad year." The way fans bad mouth the team they act like it's been season after season of futility. They don't want to hear that the Braves have the league's best record since 2010 (also the winningest since 1991). One guy said it is a bad season if they don't win the World Series. Guess he doesn't work for a company that cleans house every year they're not the number one company in their industry.

Not sure today was the best day to announce the new stadium name. Anyone saying it should've been named after Hank Aaron hasn't looked around at every other professional sports venue in America. Today's UniWatch posting details how the Mets tried to sneak through a change to their skyline logo, where the rectangular UN Building was modified to look like the trapezoid shaped CitiCorp Building. Fans revolted, and the Mets removed the logo from their social media. Quote: "The Mets can't even sell out correctly."

Chris Johnson: of all the players they extended, his was the most questionable. I do love his desire. At least he admits his batting stroke got messed up after he hit two home runs in one game. Bryce Harper swings like Andrelton – all out on every pitch. Pete Rose didn't do that, though Harper considers himself a home run hitter. So many of the announcers these days are saying the players are swinging for home runs when instead they need to be shortening their swings and making more contact. Isn't that what you're supposed to do when you're in a slump?

The game-worn store had the numbered white feather jerseys and 1969 grey jerseys for $200.00.

ROB: Glad you are still going to games and have not jumped off the bandwagon.  Should be a pretty light crowd Friday night - even with it being Star Wars night.

I have not studied the 2015 schedule very closely yet.  I do know both the players and management will look different. I believe these last 2 weeks have sealed Wren and Fredi's fate.  In the upcoming weeks, people will be talking about the franchise falling into disrepair.  However the team will enter 2015 with a rotation core of Teheran, Minor and Wood, with Kimbrel in the pen.  You can build around good young pitching.

I think BJ will be a Cub - some type of deal involving BJ and some cash for Edwin Jackson.  Jackson has a bad contract, but he can eat innings at the back of a rotation.

ME: Saturday morning I heard Ceil answer my cell phone. Bryan Coley was calling, wondering if Matthew and I wanted to go to the Tour Championship with he and Houston. It would've been great to see the golfers and hang out with Bryan, but I was headed out to a funeral and couldn't. Sunday night I was watching the Ken Burns PBS special of the Roosevelts and realized Bryan reminded me of Burns.

I missed most of the Tech game, as the funeral lasted well over an hour. Interesting service at the Catholic church – like a regular service with just a couple of rememberances of the desceased. A son spoke, and the head priest had a few thoughts as well. Gene had been a choir member for fifty years. A choir member stood up and said that Gene had often re-written verses of hymns, and the choir sand a re-written version of "Joyful Joyful We Adore Thee." The words were hard to distinguish, but they sounded funny. Holy Communion was served. Two current co-workers attended (Frisbee and Beard). Also three retirees (Ed Hayes, Joe Moyer, and my first boss Bill Robinson). Also former employee Perkins. My third funeral in three months.

Worked til 5:30 Friday afternoon. Will didn't get home until ten. I watched the Braves. C and M went to Target. Saturday morning I cleaned upstairs and snapped some photos for eBay. Made it home from the funeral for the end of the Tech game. Watched the Georgia game with Will and Ceil. C cooked breaded chicken and tilapia. I posted on eBay. Sold an old UGA jersey for a decent price. More sold monday and Tuesday night.

Will left early Sunday for his church in Athens. I took more photos and listened to a Bryant Wright sermon. Watched some of the Braves and Falcons and read my Zimmer book. C and M got caught in traffic on GA 400. Noticed fluid leaking from my car, and had to leave it at the shop Monday morning. Turned out to be a loose oil plug.