Saturday, January 31, 2015

The SPdL Six

As the SPdL Chapel Choir reunion approaches some of the banter on Facebook has reminded me of six long time Camp SPdL counselors / youth department Sunday School teachers who were the backbone of a remarkable time period in the lives of hundreds of young people. Tony Korey (above), Jim Watterson, Carroll Glover, Dottie Craig, and Brooks & Sara Maddox used precious vacation time to spend chomping through the pines of eastern Alabama, making the magic week known as Camp SPdL run as smoothly as it did. They weren’t there solely because of their own flesh and blood, but for each and every one of the kids.

While they had children grow up in the department, this “SPdL Six” served long before and long after their kids graduated and moved on with their lives. Teenagers in the 70’s and 80’s were able to see, learn, and grow from the service, example, and consistency these six shared. “Waterbucket” shared his love of leathercraft, Civil War history, and even gun shows. Brooks was the consummate referee and sportsman. Lieutenant Korey was respected for both his police work and his ability to antagonize those around him. Carroll worked behind the scenes to set up and make everything run smoothly. Dottie was the camp nurse and Sara everyone’s mother. They may not have been cutting edge comedians like David Hurt or me, but in Sunday School and camp Bible studies their teaching was without peer. 

The work and service of the SPdL Six spanned generations of teenagers. How fun to see Tony Korey stirring things up on Facebook with people he taught over thirty years ago. What memories come back. Staff members, youth directors, and camp preachers came and went (except for John Condra, who thankfully stayed forever). David Downing. Fred O. David Lewis. Rob Suggs. Val Robinson. Don Head. Dave & Caroline McKeithen. Paul McNeil. Bill Haynes. Mark Cable. What a blessing to watch gawky teen grow into beautiful swans – Christian ministers, leaders, teachers, parents, and friends. Oh how the years have flown.

I was fortunate to work alongside a slightly younger second wave of outstanding servants. Steve Norman, Kaye Statham, David Hurt (& later Mary), Charles Baugh, Alyce Maddox, Bruce Ambrose, Jimmy Light, Jerome Mathis, Paula Parks Price, Mark & Leah Stephens, Mark & Donna Fallis, Peter Craig, and Ceil, to name a few. The SPdL Six took us all in. The late night runs sixteen miles down the road for crappy Pops ice cream cones in Heflin Alabama were legendary. You could see the endearing love the teens had especially for the older six. Us younger counselors only wanted to live up to their standard and have God work through us in a similar way. 

Since it’s been over twenty years I may have left someone out. If so please forgive me – and remind me who’s missing.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Not in the Hall

On 680 Friday morning they were discussing who isn’t in the pro football hall of fame that should be (I should’ve called in about Herschel). Chris Dimino plead Jerry Kramer’s case, asking how Kramer could be passed over and Griese and Swann and Namath are in. Kramer was All-Pro ten times back when there was only a first string all pro team. He made the all decade team and the 50th anniversary team. He even doubled as a kicker (above). How could Kramer not be in the HOF?  Some think there were already so many Packers in the hall that they thought adding Kramer would be too much.
Gale Sayers made the HOF despite his career being shortened by injuries. I’m going to compare Bo Jackson’s career to Sayers’. Herschel’s NFL numbers alone dwarf those of the Kansas Comet. Jackson’s four seasons are simply not enough for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Herschel Walker gained over twice as many NFL yards than Gale Sayers, and also gained 17% more yards per NFL season.

PL.YR.games.att..yards..TD.avg
GS   7     68     991  4956  39  5.0
BJ    4     38     515  2782  16  5.4
HW 12 187  1954  8225   61  4.2

PL..rec..yards.TD.return.TD
GS   112  1307  9  3172  8
BJ      40    352  2
HW 512 4859 21  5084  2

Total yards & Yards per Season
18168 – 1514 Herschel (NFL only)
 9044 – 1292 Sayers
 3134 –   784 Bo

Greatest QB ever is a lofty title, but Brady is at least close. I don’t think any QB has been to so many Super Bowls, and championships is what it’s all about. People often forget Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw – weren’t both undefeated in Super Bowls? Peyton Manning will have all the records but not as many Super Bowls as brother Eli. Brett Farve was no slouch – he won more than Marino or Elway. And Johnny Unitas is LONG forgotten. Peyton is known for his preparation and being a gentleman, but Brady could be even more prepared than Peyton. Brady has stayed under the radar, taking fewer endorsements  than Peyton. 

While no one could ever be as competitive as Michael Jordan, I would say that Brady is the most competitive QB ever, more so than Drew Brees or Elway or Farve. Remember that iconic photo of a shirtless Joe Namath lounging before his Super Bowl, surrounded by reporters? I just learned that young Brent Musberger is on the left in the photo. Namath’s run of excellence was much shorter than Brady or Bradshaw or Montana. Wasn’t Starr the GB QB in 1960 when Norm Van Brocklin and the Eagles beat the Packers for the championship? 

Wednesday night C and A were off at art. I had gotten home at 6:45 and played on the computer. At eight I turned on the Hawks game and watched the last three quarters. Atlanta held an 8-12 point lead the whole way, keeping it close enough to be interesting. Nice they won in front of the national ESPN audience. 17 straight. Then when I saw that Tech was winning big I watched the entire second half. I guess Tech likes to play down in Miami. Perhaps the 4 guard lineup works best. It is a completely different game when you’re up by 10-15 points – Tech can play and not have to be so worried about executing perfectly. Miami cut it to eight and like the announcers I thought a comeback was in order – then the Jackets turned it on. Will they be able to carry the momentum over to the next game?

THURSDAY: Had an 8 am appointment at Resurgens Orthopedics. I have a frozen shoulder that takes at least 9 months to heal up. Halfway through the pain stage, hopefully. No need for cortisone, meds, or surgery. Busy day at work.      

I’m not big on doctor visits. Having the first appointment of the day was great. They said in the afternoon they have backups. In my exam room I noticed the Picabo Street poster was personally autographed to my doctor. My doctor’s rap sheet shows that she was the US Alpine Ski team doctor at the 2002 Nagano Olympics. She had also served at Olympic facilities in Lake Placid and Colorado Springs. Though she looks like a normal woman my age, in 1995 she set the world bench press record. She graduated from UGA and Tulane, and worked with the famous Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham. In 2011 and 2012 she was one of Atlanta Magazine’s top doctors.  

Worked past six on Thursday then stopped by Publix and the Dollar Tree on the way home, making me extra late. Ceil cooked burritos for dinner. Lately she’s been adding in too much Mexican seasoning. You know me, that’s too spicy. M’s small group was going to Friday’s Hawks game, but the game was already sold out. Thursday Connie Morris zinged the SPdL reunion Facebook page by asking what time the concert was. She was told they were working on it.

 Once the kids had all gone off to college the Hurts quit having their Super Bowl party. They’d hosted gatherings for 20 years. Not sure if our small group will get together. Seems like last year we stayed home. As I recall both Ceil and Lang cooked brisket.


Thursday, January 29, 2015

ACC Player of the Year?

On December 10 the ACC posted their postseason awards. I had been looking out for them and still missed it. The awards must not be a big deal any more, at least here in Yellow Jacket Country. Perhaps because the results were questionable. The ACC Player of the Year Award was given to the league’s leading rusher James Conner (above), the best player on a losing Pitt team.

Voting for the awards took place after the regular season and before the ACC Championship Game and the bowl season, when Tech quarterback Justin Thomas really shined. While Thomas was voted second team All-ACC, he received no votes for conference player of the year nor offensive player of the year. This despite finishing fourth in the nation in TQBR and leading the conference in yards per attempt and fewest interceptions. The Orange Bowl MVP led a Tech offense that was first in the conference in total offense, points per game, and rushing yards per game. Of the elite group below, Thomas was the only player to lead his team to a bowl victory.
  
yards / TD / int / YPA / QBR
1705 / 24 James Conner
3972 / 28 / 18 / 8.37 / 19 - Jameis Winston
2805 / 26 /  6 / 9.19 /  4 - Justin Thomas
3856 / 34 /  9 / 7.17 / 30 - Marquise Williams
3075 / 24 /  8 / 5.96 / 50 - Anthony Boone
2807 / 24 / 10 / 7.06 /  8 - Tyler Murphy

James Conner ACC Player of the Year
6 votes for ACC player of the year
8 votes for ACC offensive player of the year.
1675 yards rushing and 144 points led ACC.
24 rush TDs set ACC record & broke Tony Dorsett’s Pitt record
Ranks 10th on the Pitt all-time rushing list.
Only 5 receptions for 40 yards and 0 TDs
Armed Forces Bowl: Pitt upset by Houston 35-34

Jameis Winston 1st team QB - 39 votes
2 votes for ACC player of the year
3 votes for ACC offensive player of the year
19 rank ESPN total QB rating.
Rose Bowl: FSU blown out by Oregon 59-20
3907 yards 25 TD 18 INT 65.3 CR
8.37 YPA 18 sack 65 rush 3 TD

Justin Thomas 2nd team QB - 18 votes
0 votes for player of the year/offensive player of the year.
4 rank ESPN total QB rating
GT led ACC in total offense, PPG, & rush YPG (2nd nationally)
Orange Bowl MVP: GT upset Miss St 49-34
ACC Championship game: GT edged by FSU 37-35
1719 yards 18 TD 6 INT 51.3 CR
9.19 YPA 10 sack 1086 rush 8 TD

Marquise Williams: 3rd team QB - 8 votes
30 rank ESPN total QB rating
3068 yards 21 TD 9 INT 63.1 CR
7.17 YPA 26 sack 788 rush 13 TD
Quick Lane Bowl: UNC upset by Rutgers 40-21

Anthony Boone: honorable mention QB - 7 votes
50 rank, ESPN total QB rating
2700 yards 19 TD 8 INT 56.3 CR
5.96 YPA 13 sack 375 rush 5 TD
Sun Bowl: Duke lost to Arizona State 36-31

Tyler Murphy did not place in ACC Awards
8 rank ESPN total QB rating
1623 yards 13 TD 10 INT 57.0 CR
7.06 YPA 21 sack 1184 rush 11 TD
Pinstripe Bowl: BC upset by Penn State 31-30

That Boston College quarterback Tyler Murphy’s great season went unrecognized by the conference is a travesty. Ninth in the nation in QB Rating and third in the conference in rushing.

After committing repeated transgressions that cost him playing time on both the gridiron and diamond, for FSU’s Jameis Winston to be the unanimous first team All-ACC quarterback is another sham. While he piled on the yards in the Seminoles’ pass-first offense he also piled on the interceptions. Most of his second half comebacks were due to his slow starts. To play the season while haunted by the threat of suspension and jail time is not what a unanimous All-ACC player should be about. For this the conference should be ashamed – if anyone is even paying attention.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Here There Everywhere

Worked til 630 Monday night. Might've discovered a huge problem that'll make the next week fun. Got home at 730. Ceil was drinking her pre-procedure drink and took M to Moes. Not much of an evening.

Busy Tuesday. Between my aching shoulder, the dog, and thinking about a work problem I got little sleep Monday night. Ceil left for her appointment. Anna left for school in Dunwoody. I took M to school then stopped by McDonalds for a large Coke Zero, then Hardees for an omelet biscuit. Took the crowded GA 400 south from Holcomb Bridge to Dunwoody, then over to Perimeter College to meet Anna. I left my car at Perimeter Mall and she drove me down 400 and Peachtree to Piedmont Hospital. By the time I tracked down Ceil's whereabouts I was called back to see her. Then I had to find her car in the parking deck. All I knew was what level it was on. Finally found it, then picked her up at the door.

Having not eaten in over a day, C wanted coffee from Octane down on Howell Mill (above). She wanted soup for lunch and finally decided on the soup at El Porton near the house. We're never there for lunch. I ordered a crazy taco salad, which wasn't quite as good as taco salads from other similar Mexican restaurants. C got her soup, which wasn't quite as good as she's remembered. The service was great, and a side order of rice improved both our meals. After lunch I got C's prescription filled next door at the Stinky Kroger, and that took longer than normal.

Dropped C by the house and headed to Roswell to pick up M from school. On the way I checked out three thrift stores but passed on the boots I saw. Stopped by Chickfila for Matthew on the way home. He drove. After being on the go all day we got home at three. Ceil had crashed on the couch so I took a nap in the living room. Later I folded laundry and straightened up while watching SportsCenter coverage of the Super Bowl and the Phoenix Open. For dinner Ceil cooked potato soup and chili. After dinner C and I drove down to Perimeter Mall to fetch my car. Another typical day putting miles on the cars and being on the go all day and night.

Ceil stopped by Nancy's for Mary Lee's 18th birthday then came home and went to bed. I worked some on the computer then went to bed.

Tweets of the day: 1. When a lady drowns a puppy at the airport it's a huge story, but the media pays scant attention to the hundreds of thousands of babies aborted every year.

2. All the weathermen fail to accurately predict the "storm of the century" but everyone's supposed to believe the incomplete, spotty data predicting global warming / climate change?

3. Great response by Marco Rubio when asked if billionaire businessmen have too much power in American politics. His reply: As opposed to Hollywood or the mainstream media?

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Safe but Expensive

A list of the 31 safest cars in America from the latest tally of crash test results from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. 


All of those cars cost at least $25,000.00 and most sell for well over $40,000.00. To a major of Americans living paycheck to paycheck, buying a car based on it’s safety rating is nothing but a pipe dream. Most middle class Americans can no longer afford a new car. Millions of cars are on the road are over ten years old and lack more current safety features like airbags.


Subaru Outback (1) Impreza (9) XV Crosstrek (11) Legacy (27) Forester (32)
Lexus CT 200h (2) RC (12) NX (16)
Toyota Camry (3) Highlander (5) Prius V (7) Prius (14) Sienna (30)
Acura RLX (4) MDX (13) TLX (15)
Mazda 3 (6) Mazda 6 (24) Mazda CX-5 (29)
Hyundai Genesis (8)
Infiniti Q70 (10) Q50 (23)
Mercedes E-Class (15) M-Class (19)
Audi A3 (17)
Volvo S80 (18) XC60 (21) S60 (25) V60 (28)
BMW 2 series (20)
Chrysler 200 (22)
Honda CR-V (26)
Mitsubishi Outlander (31)

The number in parenthesis is the rank for that model.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Brady Proved'em Wrong

Good NFL Network show on the six QB’s drafted ahead of Tom Brady. He actually wept when remembering how supportive his parents were during the draft when virtually unknown QB’s were being drafted ahead of him. The Browns drafted Spergon Wynn from SW Texas State, who hadn’t completed 50% of his college passes and had thrown more interceptions than touchdowns. Also the oft-injured Chad Pennington by the Jets, washout Tee Martin by the Steelers, and Mark Bulger by the Rams. Bulger made a couple of Pro Bowls due to the potent Rams offense. The 49ers drafted Giovanni Carmazzi from Hofstra and he never played a regular season down.

Chad Pennington (Marshall) by the Jets, Round 1 Pick 18
Giovanni Carmazzi (Hofstra) by the 49ers, Round 3 Pick 65
Chris Redman (Louisville) by the Ravens, Round 3 Pick 75
Tee Martin (Tennessee) by Pittsburgh, Round 5 Pick 163
Marc Bulger (West Virginia) by the Saints, Round 6 Pick 168
Spergon Wynn (SW Texas St) by Cleveland, Round 6 Pick 183

Also watched the Marinovich Project – a good story that Ceil and Will got interested in.
Chapel choir reunion – I missed the last reunion several years ago. I’m just happy they’re having it. I guess by having the time to chat before the choir singing it will cut a lot of the chit chat up in the choir loft. If there are problems the reunion could be moved somewhere else. Rick Statham is the pastor of the church in McDonough where John Condra is serving as interim minister of music. Miriam Crumpler is his wife. I bet Rick and Miriam would let us have the reunion at their church and meet any demands of the disgruntled. Or Peachtree Presbyterian staff members Mark Crumpler and Marnie Mullen Crumpler would let us have the reunion there. Scott Atchison is at Peachtree Road Methodist. Scott and Robin Condra and Jim Watterson and John Adair (and Claire) are at Johnson Ferry. Don Head could open up his church. Or Marty Watts – is he still down in Griffin?

Slow weekend. Can’t remember Friday night. M had a late guitar lesson and he and C stopped by Publix on the way back, so I beat them home. Had hot dogs for supper along with cole slaw and baked beans.

Saturday and Sunday morning I cleaned upstairs and took over a hundred photos for eBay. Sold a Talbots blouse and got a bid on a pair of Pumas, plus three watchers on my old Mickey Mantle baseball glove. Thought about selling my old Hawks Pac man sweatshirt but Will wanted to wear it. Ceil finished painting the kitchen/den. Saturday afternoon I worked on laundry and watched some NFL Network. Ceil wanted to watch “Legally Blonde 2.”  For supper Saturday night C and A had baked potatoes and mixed vegetables and I ate a grilled chicken breast. M went out with friends. Saturday was a RARE weekend day when none of our three cars moved an inch. Usually we are driving all over town.

Will came home Sunday morning but left for Athens after lunch (pork tenderloin, stir fried vegetables, and wild rice. Ceil went to the 1230 service and I drove M down to PCC for youth group. On the way back I found four bobbleheads for only ten dollars. After church M ate at Chilis. Anna had gone down to Grace Midtown downtown near Northside and Howell Mill for most of the afternoon and the evening service. Someone busted out the windows on five cars, including Anna’s Jeep. Nothing was in there to take, but it messed up the trim around the window.

GT/BC: sounds like I didn’t miss much yesterday, but still sorry I couldn’t go. I listened to some of the game on the radio. Couldn’t believe Mitchell didn’t score in the first half – he’s just about their best player. Jorgenson should be playing more minutes and given the green light to shoot whenever he wants. I doubt they can get the Hawks coach.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Over the Top

Top Ten Over the Top Advertisements
in the Fox Theater Playbill

10. Veni Vidi Vici restaurant
9. Chateau Elan Winery & Resort
8. Serendipity Vintage Furniture
7. High Meadows Private School
6. AM1690 voice of the arts radio
4. Ruth’s Chris Steak House
3. Lexus NX Turbo SUV
2. Atlanta Jewish Film Festival
1. Jet Linx Atlanta private jets

Saturday, January 24, 2015

GT NE UGA

All college apparel is not created equal. There’s a reason why few good Georgia Tech items can be found: their followers just don’t buy it. While students will grab all the free T-shirts they can, Tech alumni seem quite happy with the odd rugby shirt or stocking cap they’ve had since their college days. It still fits, and is only worn a few times a year – so why buy something new every year? That’s not logical. Confession: I am guilty of letting my same Tech stuff hang in the closet for years (most bought in second-hand thrift stores): navy Russell Athletics jacket and gold GT cap with the Russell logo. In 2013 Reid gave me a nice GT T-shirt that I wore at the beach. Back in the late 80’s I bought a great looking white GT fitted cap with a gold bill. It’s a little snug but still nice.

But over in Athens and Auburn and Tuscaloosa and Clemson many fans have a different mentality: consumption. They want the latest team logo fashions: oxford cloth buttondowns, Columbia PFG shirts, boxer shorts, different colored caps, belts, golf shirts, golf jackets, golf balls, Christmas ornaments, bumper stickers, window stickers – I could go on and on. Alabama has houndstooth hats. Tennessee bluetick hounds. Autumn Saturdays are indeed fall fashion shows – no fan in his right mind wants to be caught without the latest outfit or accessory.
  
Last year a sports blogger wondered why such devoted college football fans in the Southeast didn’t flock to games in team logo T-shirts. How could he not know that southeastern fans tailgate in much more expensive apparel than mere T-shirts? Obviously not much of a fan – perhaps a northeasterner. Coeds go to games in dresses and boots – no jeans and T-shirts for them. Some fans wear expensive jerseys, but those are mainly worn by young boys. My favorite are the Bama fans wearing number 44 jerseys with GUMP on the back.

There are exceptions. A few holdout UGA and Clemson and Auburn fans didn’t get the memo. They’ve saved their rugby shirts and worn out snapback mesh caps (which came BACK into style) and wear them with bluejean shorts or overalls. And there are one or two fashionable Tech fans (in addition to yours truly, of course).

When Penn State holds a white out game 99% of the fans wear solid white. When Georgia Tech announces a whiteout alumni sound like they heard Chinese. “Our color is gold!” they say – and refuse to participate. In so many areas Tech people just don’t get it.   
Not sure if the shillsters sell this same crap for other schools, but I am offended by this sweatshirt being sold on Facebook - though it does accurately capture the better than you mentality held by many Tech students and fans.
Also not equal: Kiss Cams. At Braves and Hawks and UGA and Auburn games the students and fans generally know what is expected when they’ve been captured by the kiss cam. Once the great thespian Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson were caught on the cam at a LA Kings game, and they dutifully obliged (above). Usually even casual friends will exchange a peck on the lips or cheek in the spirit of the crowd.  

Not so at Georgia Tech. Students will hoot and holler when the obligatory elderly couple shows up on the Kiss Cam. Many times older fans aren’t even aware of what’s happening on the jumbotron. They’re watching the teams huddle on the bench or chatting or reading the program (how old school). Other old Techsters are checking their smart phones and don’t notice. But those oldies who do notice usually don’t mind exchanging a quick kiss, to the delight of the crowd.

But turn the camera on two students and the tension can be cut with a knife. The kids have no idea what to do. Awkward city. As the camera lingers it just gets worse – like an episode of The Big Bang Theory. After an eternity the camera mercifully moves on (or the game resumes).

Yet when the Tech band launches into Sonny & Cher’s “When You Say Love” (aka the Budweiser song) those same awkward students transform into worldly partiers, bobbing up and down and shouting GO GEORGIA TECH – WHEN YOU SAY BUDWEISER YOU’VE SAID IT ALL! Tech fans who’ve sat the entire game and not cheered a lick suddenly come alive at the sound of dear beloved Budweiser. Party animals are they.

Same with the recent addendum to Tech’s longtime fight song “Up With the White and Gold” which concludes with the GO JACKETS! cheer. Seems as though hard partying Tech fans have now added GO! FIGHT! WIN! – followed but some obscene command so rude I shut it out of my mind. Party animals are they. It’s as if they’re proud to be more obscene than anyone else. At the Tech Clemson game this year a young alumni woman stood up and screamed the GO FIGHT WIN nonsense. Everyone around her looked at her like she was from another planet, but she was damn proud.

And people wonder why I’m not a big Tech fan.        

Friday, January 23, 2015

Gomes It Is

Another typical Murphy family Wednesday on the go. Ceil ran errands while M studied with a friend near North Point Mall. When they got home C fixed BBQ and cole slaw. Then both C and A went to art. I worked til six and got home at seven, and really didn't do much except clean the kitchen and play on the computer. Watched a good episode of Duck Dynasty episode that I hadn't seen before and researched baseball stats.  

Sounds like the SPdL Chapel Choir Reunion is set for February 21. Kelly Vonefeld and Gayle Suggs seem to be organizing the thing. Fred O has a wedding and can't attend.

Matthew's small group is going to the Hawks game next weekend. They usually go to one or two a year. Both he and Anna had sleepovers last weekend – but Will had come home from Athens for the holiday. He is graduating in December. Wants to work in a hospital this summer and after graduation to get experience for PA school. Monday I checked out the UGA calendar and plotted the August dates Anna would be moving to Athens…as well as December 18 – the date of Will's graduation ceremony. I'm writing Anna's senior biography that will be in her graduation program on May 15. In addition to the impending graduations, etc Anna gets her braces off next month (why she's been waiting to take senior pictures) and all three kids need their wisdom teeth removed. Anna needs glasses. I'm that dad on the riding lawnmower again: "someone help me."

No big plans for the weekend. Lots of laundry piled up. My eBay business has slowed to a trickle, and I need to ramp that up. Honestly eBay has slowed due to the crappy things I'm selling – nobody wants a Terry Bowden autographed Clemson football. I do have more inventory to post that should sell quicker but I haven't devoted the time I should. I've fallen into a routine of working 7-6. Things are busy and picking up. I get home at seven and after the dishes done get done its after eight I'm kind of bushed. In general nothing is going on except housework so I have time available. I need to exercise either before work or at night but haven't started.

Someone pointed out that the pitcher the Nats threw millions at had the same 2014 record as the guy he's replacing. I still say the Yunel Escobar signing can't be an overall plus. Zimmerman may move to first, but the loss of Adam LaRoche is just one more hurdle they'll have to overcome. Perhaps Miami will swoop in and take the division. I was disappointed that Todd Cunningham had a lackluster 2014 season. Funny how people think Minor is some Rocker-like troublemaker for rejecting the Braves offer and going to arbitration. Shows you how valuable lefthanded pitchers are. Will used to play with a little lefty who finally "grew up" to 5'10". As a freshman last year he pitched for a college in their final year of existence. This year he's down at a small school in Florida. His dad says he's hoping to be drafted, so we'll see.  

The Giants, Cardinals, and A's seem to be good at only asking a player to do things he's good at, with good results. I have no problem with platoons. While I remember the Ortiz/Obama selfie, I was not aware of Gomes' red, white, and blue jacket until I looked him up on Google images. Gomes would be a great bobblehead candidate. After Will's longtime teammate Tanner expressed his love for Gomes I checked out his career, which resulted in my blog post / Facebook post. Tanner is a sucker for any bearded / tattooed / outlandish "slugger". Of course I was wanting the old over the hill Ichiro. If we're gonna lose 110 games like everyone says we might as well have a little fun.

ROB (last week): I would have already signed Ichiro.  That would allow you to bat Markakis cleanup and give Freddie a little protection in the 3rd spot.  However, I think they are high on Zolio Almonte, the AAA outfielder they signed out of the Yankee organization and Toscano the Cuban they signed.  It is interesting that Almonte and Joey Terdoslavich have similar minor league numbers. I hate to disappoint the "fans" on social media, but we will not lose 110 games (or 100 or even 90).  I know people want to compare this team to the bad teams in the 70's and 80's, but (barring injuries) this team's pitching will be too strong.

(today) It seems like the Braves brass believes they have something in Almonte and want to give him +/- 400 PA's in a platoon with him batting left handed (he is a switch hitter, but it sounds like they think LH is his strong side).  If you sign Ichiro for a platoon, that scenario with Almonte does not work. I like the idea of platoons in positions where you do not have an above average everyday player.  I believe a platoon does 3 things:  1)  it puts a limited player in a better position to succeed (i.e. Chris Johnson has a better chance to be successful only hitting against LHP, 2)  if forces management to build a stronger bench, since essentially your bench are part time players and 3) it keeps the bench players sharper since they are part time players with more AB's.

I think the non-pitchers part of the roster will look like this:

C - Bethancourt and AJ
1B - Freddie
SS - Simba
2B/3B - Callaspo, C Johnson, K Johnson, & Peterson (acquired from the Padres)
RF - Markakis
CF - BJ and Opie Cunningham
LF - Gomes and Almonte

It sounds like they will give Cunningham a chance if BJ continues to struggle.  The only chance Terdo has is if Almonte has a horrible spring and he (Terdo) has a great spring.

I agree that the last thing the Hawks need to do is to make a major trade to disrupt team chemistry.  At most, they need to pick up another C/PF type to come off the bench and bang and foul the other teams bigs.  Right now Elton Brand is the only one who can do that, however he can only do that in limited minutes.  In a 7 game series against the Bulls, with a healthy Noah and Gasol, we could use someone else to come in the game and foul them.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Gomes or Ichiro?

The Braves are looking to sign an additional outfielder for the 2015 season. This offseason new GM John Hart has gone to great lengths to reshape the team from a swing for the fences league leading strikeout team into a high contact line drive club like the past few World Series winning teams of the Giants and Cardinals. With hotheads Chris Johnson and AJ Pierzynski on the roster, the addition of a veteran leader / example would be most helpful. Two of the top free agent outfielders still available are 35 year old Jonny Gomes and 42 year old Ichiro Suzuki. Both have spent most all of their careers in the American League. I knew little of Gomes so I looked him up. Below is a comparison in several key analytics as well as their 2014 season statistics.

PL.YR.AVG.OBP.SLG.OPS.AB.BB.SO
IS 2014 284 324 340 664 359 21 68
JG 2014 234 327 330 657 273 35 88

IS life 317 360 411 771 8964 565 944
JG life 244 335 442 777 3231 386 1007

Home runs should not be a deciding factor for either player. Gomes hasn’t hit 20 home runs since 2009 and has only hit 20 in three of his 12 seasons – and those were totals of 20, 21, and 20). A more likely deciding factor for the Braves is whether they most need a left-handed hitter (Ichiro) or a righty (Gomes).  

PL..H...R.2B.3B.HR.BI.SB.CS
IS 102 42 13  2   1  22  15  3
JG  64 28   8  0   6  37    0   0

I don’t know what kind of fielder Gomes is, though he did DH a lot. Ichiro won the Gold Glove ten straight seasons.

Batting average the past 4 seasons:
IS 284 262 283 272
JG 234 247 262 209

The last thing the Braves need to do is to pay millions for someone to compete with BJ Upton for the lowest batting average on the team. Ichiro is motivated to reach 3000 hits – he’s only 156 away. Adding his 1278 hits in Japan, Suzuki is close to passing Pete Rose as the all-time hit king - only 134 hits to go. He only needs 67 hits to pass Ty Cobb for second place.

Games played the past 4 seasons:
IS 143 150 162 161
JG 112 116  99 120

The drop in Ichiro’s games played last season could have been more a factor of the Yankees wanting to try out other players. The former MVP may be 42 years old but he keeps himself in great shape and works harder than anyone else in the game. His work ethic and wisdom would be a great example for young players like Andrelton Simmons and Christian Bethancourt.

OPS the past four seasons:
IS  664 639 696 645
JG 657 771 868 714

Last year Gomes struck out 20 more times than Ichiro - in 86 fewer at bats. Gomes career strikeout rate of 31 times per 100 at bats is three times that of Ichiro and higher even than Dan Uggla (28) or BJ Upton (30). This stat alone should be the deciding factor.
 
While Ichiro could possibly sport the Braves’ classic striped stirrups (last seen on the legs of Andruw Jones), Gomes made his own White House fashion statement by wearing a red, white, and blue blazer.
 
Alas, the Marlins just offered Ichiro a one year two million dollar contract, so the Braves would have to act fast. Atlanta could offer more playing time than the Fish have available. Baltimore is also in the running for Suzuki.

Unfortunately, Hart has given no indication that he is even interested in the seemingly best available option. Though he did not share them with me, I’m sure the experienced Hart has his reasons. With over 70 days before opening day, there’s no need to rush.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Newsies at the Fox: a Review

After being on Christmas shutdown for the past month my customer started back production Tuesday and it was immediately busier, especially in the afternoon. The normally 15 minute meeting lasted over an hour. Since I had gotten to work 40 minutes early I left work 30 minutes early. Drove down to Howell Mill to eat dinner on the trendy Westside. We figured Taqueria would be crowded and we were in a hurry, so we ate next door at Yeah Burger.

Yeah Burger is supposed to be a healthy burger place, so I shouldn’t have been surprised at the bland French fries and onion rings (we shared a combo side dish – smart idea). Not oversalted for sure. The onion rings were fresh and lightly breaded, allowing for the sweet onion taste to come through – but it didn’t. Each burger was built with two small grass fed beef patties, which did provide more flavor and plenty of meat (Ceil took out one patty before chowing down). Plenty of pink on the inside of my medium well patty, though the outside was almost crunchy around the perimeter. Even with plenty of meat the “Artisian white roll” bun was much too big – some bites were like eating plain bread. Ceil’s wheat roll was smaller, but I was shooting for the tastiest burger possible. The service was relatively fast, considering we had to wait behind a mom with her two young daughters. For the price Yeah Burger ranks behind Fuddruckers, Moxie Burger, Smash Burger, Cheeseburger Bobby’s, and even Flip Burger. On par with Red Robin, but healthier.

Left the Westside at 6:45 and cut through Tech to North Avenue. Traffic wasn’t too bad past the Varsity, and we found plenty of parking spaces on West Peachtree. Got behind some slow walkers, but had no problem getting my tickets at the Fox Theater will call. Made it to our seats in time for the organ sing along. The Fox looked to be 80% full for the first of six shows.

NEWSIES encountered just a few Opening Night snags. In the first number one actor accidently dabbed shaving cream on another actor’s mic. In the first act most musical numbers featured strong vocals from the ensemble, but I noticed that in comparison the lead actor Dan DeLuca’s singing voice was relatively weak. Otherwise his performance went well. But during intermission it was announced the lead role would be played by the understudy Jon Hacker in the second act. Not sure if DeLuca got sick or was pulled like a quarterback for a poor first half performance. Based on the plot (newspaper delivery strike) I was surprised the AJC would ever sponsor a Broadway show like Newsies.
   
Didn’t feel too well earlier in the day – headache. Could be due to a tooth. Maybe today will be the day I make a doctor’s appointment (I did – next Thursday). Good having Will home some this weekend. He mulched the yard and blew the driveway. He went back to Athens this morning but will be back this weekend for his roommate’s bachelor party – burgers Friday night, breakfast buffet Saturday morning followed by a trip to that new golf facility in Alpharetta and dinner at Bones.

Anna came home from her two day sleepover and washed her Jeep – a first. She and M backed the cars into the garage so all four cars would fit in the driveway. Ceil cooked spaghetti and meatballs for dinner – one of Will and Matthew’s favorite meals. I did a little cleaning and worked on the computer. W, A, and C watched The Emperor’s New Groove – a good movie but I wasn’t in the mood, so I went to bed early.

Phone rang at 5:30 am – a problem. Should’ve been detected yesterday afternoon but wasn’t. Arrived at work at 6:25 but it took almost an hour to solve the problem. Will be leaving work early today – I won tickets to tonight’s opening night of the Broadway musical Newsies at the Fox.  

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Championship Sunday

SEATTLE / GREEN BAY: Flipped on the game and was surprised to see the Packers finish the first half up 16-0. During halftime I went out and carefully finished trimming the hedges without further incident. I knew it would be hard for the Packers to finish off the Seahawks, and sure enough the momentum swung Seattle’s way. I wasn’t surprised with the first Russell Wilson touchdown. With 2:09 remaining and only one Seattle time out left, Green Bay was in decent shape. But the Packers’ failure to cover the onside kick was horrendous. After Wilson’s scramble down to the 30 and out of bounds with 2:01 remaining I thought the Packers might adopt the Paul Johnson strategy of letting Seattle score quick to give themselves more time to score. The two point conversion was key. What looked like a broken play and desperation heave was actually a planned play. The only thing that would’ve made the game better would’ve been had the Packers intercepted the pass and ran it back for two points of their own.
PATRIOTS / COLTS: The Patriots blowout in the rain was anticlimactic. It was the first time since Tuesday I was able to get on the computer, and I had a lot of catching up to do. Couldn’t believe Brady stayed in the game taking hits as long as he did. Aside from a few less than cerebral defenders like Ray Lewis, Brady might be the most competitive player in the NFL. He also carefully handles the press, artfully handling the postgame interview with Jim Nantz with a wide smile on his face. When Lewis said Brady was only known for the tuck rule play, the former Super Bowl winner / MVP did not respond. Supposedly Brady is on Facebook, but his post right when the game ended (before the postgame on-field interview) was obviously not from him.

Good call by the NFL to admit that the Calvin Johnson catch/no-catch rule was too complicated – that if fifty drunks in a bar can see an obvious catch then it’s probably a catch. The officials have a tough job and have to be careful and judicious.

Many said that in the Dallas / Detroit game Dez Bryant should have been penalized for illegally (1) coming off the bench (2) without a helmet (3) to argue. Not sure how often that penalty is called, like it is in the NBA playoffs. Is Bryant even a team captain? The NFL usually doesn’t allow such anarchy. Will be interesting to see if Bryant is fined for his actions. Still thought the NFL should’ve upheld Suh’s one game suspension for twice stepping on Aaron Rodgers.

I do like the Lions (Stafford and Calvin Johnson – NOT Suh. Over the years I have liked the Cowboys but not this incarnation. Not a huge fan of Jerry Jones and Tony Romo and especially Dez Bryant. They are a hot team, so you have to give them that. The Lions had a tough task beating Dallas. They did well in the first half but couldn’t hang on.

Interesting the debate over the Lions Cowboys game. Even the venerable Tony Dungy took offense with the Dez Bryant non-call.

Golfer/Cowboy fan Jason Dufner pointed out that in golf the rules are rules. A penalty is a penalty and flags aren’t picked up. You may not always go for it – sometimes you lay up. Even so it is sad to see Dufner use such street lingo in his tweets.  

What I hate are fourth down plays taken from the shotgun, where the running back has to run 5 yards to get back to the line of scrimmage. Those plays develop too slowly. Better to have a quick hitting handoff so the defense doesn’t have time to penetrate. I suppose offensive coordinators want the RB to look for a hole but on a short yardage play the defense is going to fill all the gaps.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Near Death Experience?

Friday night C wanted to go to IKEA to look at a sofa. Anna stayed home but M tagged along. M and I were starved. We went to the IKEA cafĂ© but I didn’t see anything good. He ate chicken tenders and fries. I went downstairs and ate two fifty cent hot dogs. M ate an ice cream cone. As usual Ceil took forever and we didn’t leave until nine. M wanted to drive around Atlantic Station. Seemed like I got stuck at every red light. While waiting at one all I could think was that it was 9:30 and I hadn’t been home for 15 hours, so I took a right on red and headed for the highway home. Had to stop by Kroger on the way, so it was after ten before we got home.

Ceil was going to paint the kitchen/den on Saturday. There was so much stuff piled up everywhere that didn’t need paint all over it that I spent several hours cleaning and organizing and moving stuff out of the way. Later I ran errands: the library, thrift store, return a RedBox movie, make a deposit at the ATM, and get the oil changed in the Civic. On the way home Ceil needed a spotlight from Home Depot. Then she needed light bulbs. Then she called needing a roller brush. Then it was the entire roller. While looking at the rollers half the light bulbs fell and broke. When I got home I cleaned out the garage. Also re-watched The Blind Side and unsuccessfully tried to debug Anna’s laptop – guess I need an expert.

Later C drove M to the new Avalon in Alpharetta. A gang from school was supposed to hang out but it turned out to be only one girl, MacKenzie. M made it clear that it wasn’t a date, though she was a cutie. They ate at Whole Foods – he ate a burrito. I had to go go pick him up later. Lots of people eating and shopping and going to movies at the Avalon place. Caroline Hargreaves family was out of town so Anna and several friends slept over there both Saturday and Sunday night.   

Sunday morning I drove C down to Passion City Church. John Piper (above) was speaking. With no second service we knew there would be a crowd. I dropped C off and parked up at the old Gold Club. The short bus ride didn’t take long. Piper delivered a wonderfully passionate, biblical sermon – even commenting on and adding to a church leader’s short pre-offering testimony. On the way out we ran into Mary-Clayton’s family and met her sister’s new boyfriend. C and I walked back to the car. Ceil kept looking for acorns off the fir trees, so this took a while. Then had to stop by and pick up a phone charger for M.

By then it was 1 pm. We’d been gone four hours for one church service and I was stir-crazy and starved. The line at the Pine Straw Plaza Willy’s was long and service was slow. When it was our turn they were out of their main dish – chicken. When I paid the amount seemed high and when we got home I figured out why: they’d duplicated M’s burrito order. Not sure if C confused them or if we got someone else’s food, but at least we didn’t pay for something we didn’t get.

C drove M and a friend down to PCC, leaving me at the house alone. It was too windy to rake so I trimmed the hedges with my new hedge-trimmer (my old one I had inherited from my grandfather had been mysteriously lost after 28 years). I trimmed and trimmed. At one point the clippers slipped out of my hands and sliced a deep cut at the base of my left hand. It didn’t go straight down but in at an angle – otherwise it might’ve cut a vein. I held up my hand and went inside. By then there was lots of blood to wash off. I was kind of in shock, but not shock shock. A close call. Had it been worse it would’ve been hard to drive to the hospital. During halftime I went out and carefully finished trimming the hedges without further incident.

Needed gas on the way to work this morning. Went Old Alabama to fill up at a BP with usually low prices – but gas there was $2.099. Took Jones Bridge over to Old Milton and saved twelve cents a gallon. My BP card discount made it an incredibly low $1.309 per gallon. Filled up my tank for less than $15.00.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Should I Stay or Should I Go Now

With Perry gone from 680, that Home Team guy has stepped up and started talking like an expert instead of a guy just recently promoted from reading the updates every 15 minutes. I’m sure Home Team lives, eats, and breathes sports and has a relatively informed opinion, but one thing he’s bad at is listening. As always Chris Dimino brings an informed, considered opinion. Home Team is an idiot for disagreeing. He spouts his own not thought through that much opinion and thinks it holds up against Dimino’s more considered opinion. Like this morning Home Team thought Ohio State could only benefit from having three great QB’s and did not think about the OSU players pulling for one QB over another could divide and tear apart the team. Dimino brought that up. If this keeps up Dimino could turn against Home Team like he did Perry.
Ohio State QB Cardale Jones has wisely determined that his three games in college were not enough experience to jump to the NFL, so he will return to the Buckeyes next year. Cardale sounded intelligent and engaging at his press conference, quite different from the teenager who once tweeted “we ain’t come to play school“. 

Two time Big Ten player of the year Braxton Miller may not return. Since Miller had been shrouded in the jerseys for tattoos contraversery, perhaps FSU would be a good fit for him. Not sure about Miller, but Jones was raised in poverty with no authority figures to teach him right and wrong. The father of former Buckeye Ted Ginn Jr runs a charter school/football factory for boys like Smith. Even then Cardale was a slow learner in both high school and when he matriculated to Ohio State.  

That’s one thing about America today. The black leadership is more interested in lining their own pockets and mooching of the system and avoiding paying tax bills than mentoring the next generation. Children are left to fend for themselves, more worried about their next meal and yearning for affection and attention than planning a life and career. When I have a hard time getting motivated to be a good husband and provide for my family and lose weight and serve others and all the other things that I should be doing, it is kinda hard to dump on poor people for not doing more than what everyone else around them is doing.
MARIOTA: CBS broadcaster Gary Danielson is saying that as a result of the national championship game Marcus Mariota’s draft position has fallen into the second round. I love Danielson’s analysis on SEC games but I think he’s way off the mark. After the Rose Bowl all the supposed experts were talking about how great he was. What I want to know is who these so-called experts picked in the Sugar Bowl – probably Alabama. They had probably picked Oregon in the national championship game – the Ducks went in as a seven point favorite. Probably sour grapes on the part of the experts, who are mad at Mariota for making them look bad. 

Just another reminder that all this hype is meaningless. That expert wasn’t breaking new ground with his second round prediction. Last August Sports Illustrated ran an in-depth article about how Mariota would project as a pro, contrasting him to several past Oregon QB’ how flopped in the NFL.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Adios El Oso

No shock about the Evan Gattis trade. I loved watching him play and loved his story. But his outfield defense would’ve made for a long season. Gattis missed parts of the past two seasons with injuries. Wouldn’t surprise me to see the White Bear on the AL All-Star team this summer. Now that the Braves need an outfielder will they go after the good hit / good field small ball former ROY / AL MVP unsigned free agent outfielder? I hear Ichiro can be had on the cheap.

The Braves 2015 playoff chances skyrocketed this week with the Nationals’ acquisition of shortstop Yunel Escobar. With all the roster turnover it’s no wonder the bobblehead schedule has yet to be released. Besides Smoltz possibilities include Markakis, Teheran, Minor, Wood, and possibly Bethancourt.
ROB: I have mixed emotions about the Gattis trade.  I sort of wanted to see him play LF everyday and hit 30+ HR's, but I was also concerned if he could stay healthy enough to ever do that.

By the time we move into the new ballpark, we could have a roster of young, controllable power arms in addition to an infield of Bethancourt, Freeman, Peraza, Simmons and the kid Rio they got from Houston.  It is too early to project the OF, but ultimately, you can go out and buy outfielders. I don't think I truly realized until now just how much the misses on Uggla, BJ, Heyward and Johnson set back the franchise.  They have too much pitching to be truly awful (90+ losses) over the next 2 seasons.  However, I don't see where the runs are going to come from.

Are you ready to jump on the Hawks bandwagon yet?

ME: Definitely on the Hawks bandwagon. I’m a typical fan who knows little about the team. Glad they are winning the Spurs way, playing team basketball without a star. After hanging out in a Phillips Arena luxury suite during the Passion Conference Ceil said she could stomach attending a Hawks game – as long as she got to sit in a luxury box. Did you read the long Hawks article I posted on Facebook? Interesting all the thought processes they’re going through to boost attendance. Guess I am an Alpharetta unicorn. I stumbled across that article on Uni Watch because the article had one sentence mentioning possible new uniforms (which I would be in favor of). I wonder if the rebranding of the Hawks led to the jersey switch from HAWKS to ATLANTA. 680 is worried about a trade messing up the chemistry of the Hawks team. Not sure a trade is needed.

TUESDAY: another slow night. Left work at six. Ceil cooked breaded boneless chicken, baked potato wedges, and salad. As usual I passed on the potatoes. C watched a British midwife show on Netflix and I watched a MLB Network show about Bruce Bochy and Tim Flannery. I put off doing the dishes until later.

WEDNESDAY: A few days ago I was looking at the parking receipt from last week and noticed the time stamp read just after 6:30, so it took us 30 minutes to drive the 5 miles from SPdL to 10th Street. Saved some time this week by taking Piedmont to Monroe to Tenth. I thought it would be funny to take an orange to the game and when you were getting a picture with the Orange Bowl trophy pull the orange out of your pocket and start peeling it. 
The GT / Notre Dame game was OK. Tech shot 54% in the first half, building up a 13 point lead - and then 26% in the second half. Could be a long year. Too long a line to get my picture with the Orange Bowl Trophy, but no big deal. Most of the football team did leave after halftime. QB Justin Thomas stayed – hopefully he’s keeping his grades up. I tweet from Tech games with the hope of having the tweet displayed on the jumbotron. Guess my tweets Wednesday night might’ve been too sarcastic for publication. Driving home from the game I made all the lights from the Buckhead Loop up 400 and Abernathy / Johnson Ferry and made it all the way home without stopping one time.

THURSDAY: Augusta trip went ok. Picked up Chickfila breakfast on the way out of town. Ate lunch at Applebees with the customer. Had a grilled chicken salad. Got caught without a book on CD so I was at the mercy of the radio. Drove back in the rain and took my time, stopping at five thrift stores. Only found one bobblehead. Got caught in the 400 north / Sandy Springs traffic. Ceil cooked baked chicken for supper. Also rice, grilled brussel sprouts, and mixed vegetables. I skipped the rice. Watched American Idol.